Maspeth High School offers numerous after-school clubs and organizations, one of which is Photography Club. Photography is now approaching its second year in Maspeth, and continues to grow in popularity with students.
Last year’s photography group explored and created different types of photography, including sun prints, portraits, decisive moments, landscapes, and original pieces for their own books.
Miss. Pettengill is the advisor to the club, and she has been working at Maspeth High School for two years. Photography was one of her majors in college.
I asked a few questions to Miss. Pettengill about the club and how she herself first became interested in photography.
When did you start photography?
“I started taking photographs when I was a little girl. I got my first camera when I was six and I think I was interested in documenting things I never wanted to forget. I had a very non-traditional family so I sometimes felt like there were people missing from my family portrait, so I started photographing not just my family, but the other people that I love that I know that I’d recognized to be family and I started looking at the world around me with my photographs”
In your opinion what is the true definition of photography?
“My opinion of photography as far as the definition is that it is painting with light. We use all kinds of different tools for capturing that painting or that rendering of light, but for me a photograph starts with light touching a multiplied surface, and what I try to teach you guys in the photo class is that even with digital photography nowadays you guys are like carving out pictures in a 2D dimensional plane with light.”
Is there any advice you would like to give to students who have any interest in photography?
“Advice I would give to students who are interested in photography aside from join photo club/class in our transition year is to never stop taking pictures and to look at great photographers around us. We’re so privileged in New York to have so many great photographers live and work here.
I also asked a student who is still in photography for her opinion. This was her response:
Why did you first sign up for the class?
“I signed up for the class because I’ve always been interested in photography. I really enjoy looking at other people’s work and going to museums. When I bought my first ever DSLR, I felt that the club could help me practice using the camera and strengthen my skills.”
What’s it like being I photography?
“I really enjoy being in the photography class. I get to surround myself every Friday with people who enjoy taking photographs, just like I do. It’s a really rewarding experience.”
Do you believe with the skills you are learning you can look at life in a different way?
“I think now I find beauty even in the most simplest things like a shadow or even a staircase. I also have noticed that I observe architecture more than ever and I’m always looking for cool and unique buildings.”
What your personal definition of photography?
“Photography is a form of art that captures the world in its most natural form.”
Any advice for other students?
“I would just say that photography is all about having fun and telling your story through your pictures. Cameras are used to be focused on trying to make my pictures have a certain style or have them look similar to other people’s, but I’ve learned that the best way to improve your skills and to have fun with photography is to just shoot whatever you think is worth shooting.”